Complete Guide to Emergency Kits

Emergency Kits and Survival Gear

Be Prepared.

The Boy Scout Motto says it all. This guide will help you get started with your emergency kits and gear.

We explore the different types of emergency kits, suggest ready-made kits to purchase and gear if you're doing it DIY. We link out to the best emergency kit checklists and suggest the top rated, most popular survival gear.

Experience: "California Fires Took Our Home"

We recently interviewed survivors of the Paradise, CA wild fires. They moved into our area because they were forced to evacuate and leave everything behind.

As we talked with them about their experience they became quite emotional. They recounted how they felt feelings of devastation as they watched the news report on impending doom as the fires approached their community. They tried to hold out as long as possible hoping for some miracle.

Eventually, the sirens began to wail and people were pounding on their door demanding evacuation. Smoke filled the streets. By the time they decided to adhere and take action, they had a couple of hours to get out. They grabbed the most valuable items, some survival equipment and left. They relocated to another town with family and friends from the area. They continued to watch the news as reports came in. Eventually, the news reported that their neighborhood had been consumed. They had no idea if their home was left standing.

When they were cleared to return, they found their home and their place of business was destroyed. They had lost everything they hadn't taken with them when they left it.

The husband and father asked himself, now what? do we have enough to get by?

Fortunately, they lived a life of preparation and were able to survive and get back on their feet. They had grabbed the essentials and had their life in order so that survival was very likely.

There's great peace of mind in being prepared (insured) for life's emergencies. Having the right emergency gear on hand during an emergency situation can set the stage for a very successful, albeit daunting, outcome. Having your gear ready to go can mean the difference between real stress and struggle vs confidence and direction. We believe every household should have an emergency plan and emergency gear and supplies in ready-to-go kits.

In this article we explore numerous emergency kit types and recommend options for your preparedness needs.

Top Ready-Made Emergency Kits

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Survival Kit - 1 Person

Overall Best Ready-made Emergency Kit

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Survival Kit - 2 Person

Overall Best Ready-made Emergency Kit

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Emergency Kit Types

We wish we there was a one-size-fits-all emergency kit. While we recommend our complete survival system, we realize everyone has a unique household, lifestyle, budget, location, climate, etc. Below we discuss the various emergency kit types so you can choose the best one for your situation.

We hear all sorts of terms thrown around for emergency kits. So, what's the difference between an emergency kit, survival kit, 72 hour kit, bug out bag, house kit, etc? Do they have different purposes? Do they contain different gear? Or, are they all the same thing with different names?

The way you intend to use your kit will determine the type of gear it has. Some kits are generic and some are very specialized. Each household should have the right kits and gear on hand. In fact, each household member should be ready with gear specific to their needs.

This page introduces each kit type. Clicking below will take you to a page with the topic discussed in full detail along with the equipment/supply list if you are building your own kit. Let's explore each type of kit.

Type Kit Checklist Purpose
Essential Gear   General use (personal)
  Every Day Carry (EDC) Checklist Items you have with you every day
  Emergency Essentials Kit Checklist Essential survival gear
Go Bags   Leave home indefinitely (personal)
  Bug Out Bags (BOB) Checklist Ultimate survival kit with gear for long term survival away from home
  72 Hour Kit Checklist Emergency kit with gear for short term survival away from home
  Basic Emergency Kit Checklist Basic kit for general emergencies
Survival Kits   Get back home safe (personal)
  Day Pack Checklist Survival gear for regular outings
  Survival Kit Checklist Survival kit for the outdoors
Home Emergency Kits   Shelter in place (household)
  House Kit Checklist Emergency kit for home use
  Bulk Supplies and Equipment Checklist Emergency supplies and equipment for home use
Specialty Emergency Kits   Special location (communal)
  Office/Work Place Checklist Emergency kit dedicated to the office/work place
  School Checklist Emergency kit dedicated to schools
  Vehicle and Travel Kits Checklist Emergency kit dedicated to auto emergencies and trips
  Boat Kits Checklist Emergency kit dedicated to aquatic emergencies and trips
  Pet Kits Checklist Emergency kit dedicated to specific pets

Essential Survival Gear

Whether you are at home, in your vehicle, at work, or out on the trail, having the right survival gear handy can make a huge difference. We believe the items you keep on you person (every-day-carry) can serve a valuable function. You should also carry gear, first aid, and travel toiletries just in case. We recommend you organize these items into modular pouches so you can move them if needed. 

Every Day Carry (EDC)

The gear you carry with you every day is called EDC gear. Most people take their phone, wallet or purse, keychain, etc with them everywhere. Some people wear a watch, carry a pocket knife or multi tool in their pocket, pens or pencils or carry other gear they use on a regular basis. We urge you to consider this your first level of preparedness. You can tackle 80% of the day's non-emergency adventures and challenges with whatever you have on your person.

Some people who are more prepper-minded will carry extra gear on their person. Some take simple first aid, flashlights, and other supplies. I know a group of guys who carry pistols in their scripturebag to church, among other items. While we don't necessarily recommend extreme prepper behavior, we do urge you to be mindful of where you are, where you're going and what you might need if an emergency arises.

Recommendations:

  1. Carry a pocket knife or multi tool nearly everywhere (except the airport).
  2. While you don't have to carry a flashlight on your hip, make sure you phone has one or you have one in your vehicle
  3. Carry a wallet that has RFID protection
  4. Keep some form of basic first aid handy nearly anywhere you go

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Swiss Army Pocket Knife

Top Pick: The Swiss Army Knife is a classic EDC multi-tool that covers everything.

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Emergency Essentials Pouches

We recommend building three modular kits called essentials pouches. Each one contains a certain type of survival gear. The purpose is to help you get home in the event of an emergency. The 3 pouches are:

  1. Essentials Gear
  2. Essential First Aid
  3. Essential Toiletries

Essentials Gear

Carry essential tools and items based on the survival priorities. The pouch may contain Swiss Army Knife or multi-tool, water filter, flashlight, firestarter, paracord, etc.

Essential First Aid

Carry the basics for first aid. Some people use a field kit, some standard first aid supplies, and some use a hybrid.

Essential Toiletries

Carry basic toiletries like pocket tissues (instead of toilet paper), travel sized toothbrush and toothpaste, chap stick, etc.

Recommendations:

  1. Balance weight and bulk against function.
  2. Using 3 separate pouches let's you keep track of things.
  3. If you deplete something, replenish it ASAP so you have if for next time.
  4. Think through all sorts of scenarios. Most emergencies are pretty minor, but an earthquake or sudden storm can leave you in a bind.
  5. Even if you use public transportation, find ways to have these handy items in your backpack, purse or briefcase.

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Leatherman Wave Multi-Tool

The most popular, reliable survival multi-tool on the market

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Crank Flashlight

Rechargeable hand crank and solar powered LED flashlight for survival

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Personal Water Filter - Hydroblu

Affordable, long lasting water filter and purifier

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Basic Emergency Kits

An emergency kit is a generic term for a collection of survival gear and usually consists of a portable container like a backpack, bucket, or bin of gear that can be grabbed at a moment's notice to solve the problems common during an emergency. The gear inside the kit may be necessary for survival or comfort in the face of challenging events. A general emergency kit may address the common situations in a region (i.e. hurricanes in the South).

An emergency kit contains gear like tools, communications devices, food, water, temporary shelter , light sources, fire starters, and more. The gear may be specific to an individual's needs, specific to an emergency type, or general for use by anyone.

A number of companies make ready-made emergency kits. We compare the top pre-made emergency kits here. Pre-assembled kits are a great way to get started with your preparedness efforts. They can be affordable and have just the right gear to take care of your needs when the train comes off the rails.

Recommendations:

We realize there are a number of factors that determine how prepared you are: budget, experience, common emergencies in your area, etc. Here's what we recommend for getting started with your survival preparation:

  1. Buy a ready-made kit to get going - there are a bunch of options for your budget
  2. Set a monthly budget and add a little bit to your emergency kit. Adding a tool here, a first aid item there, etc. will eventually set you up for the best chance of success.
  3. Buy high-quality gear (as much as the budget will allow). Have you ever had a tool break while in the middle of a project? Now imagine breaking a survival tool in a stressful moment. Quality gear has a high value when it's needed the most.

The key is to get started and build up your resources over time. Keep your emergency needs in mind and eventually you'll have a kit that's got all the right gear.

Basic Emergency Kit

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36L Tactical Backpack

Military-style backpack for bug out bags, 72-hour kits or other emergency organization

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Nalgene Water Bottle

Personal survival water bottle

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Go Bags

A Go Bag is an emergency kit prepared for you to rapidly leave your home for an indefinite period of time, usually in some sort of rapid evacuation. Some are intended for long term use. A Go Bag is the ultimate survival kit and can support you for a long time. The items are portable and VERY functional. 

Situations Warranting a Go Bag

  • Tornado
  • Earthquake
  • Forest Fire
  • Social Unrest
  • Zombie Apolcalypse

Go Bag Types

  • 72 Hour Kit
  • Bug Out Bag

Contents

A go bag contains the emergency essentials (discusssed above) among other items like extra clothing, food-ready-to-eat, water, etc.

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Survival Kit - 1 Person

Overall Best Ready-made Emergency Kit

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Emergency Kit - 72 Hours - 4 Person

Best Ready-made 72-Hour Kit

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72 Hour Kits

A 72 hour kit is an emergency kit tailored to the needs of an individual for the first 72 hours away from home during an emergency. The kit is usually complete and ready and waiting within a home or vehicle. When an emergency strikes, the kit can be grabbed on the way out the door. It usually contains clothing, toiletries, cash, food, water, communication devices, power sources, light sources, etc.

To get started on your kit ask: "what would I need for 3 days if I had to grab one thing and leave my house?"

While we recommend building your own 72 hour kit, there are ready-made kits available. You can purchase them and add items for your individual needs.

Recommendations:

  1. Build your own 72-hour kit to fit your individual needs
  2. Consider your gender. Women may have certain hygiene needs and medications while men may require certain gear or medications.
  3. Toiletries might include: soap, deodorant, simple hair care and makeup, etc. See our full list.
  4. Make sure the kit supplies are readily available for quick grab and go
72-Hour Kit

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Survival Kit - 1 Person

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Bug Out Bags

Bug out bags are much like a 72 hour kit but are designed with a longer term duration. They tend to have a more serious intent. Often, they are equipped with survival gear, personal items, and protective gear like weapons, etc. They are a more extreme, yet justifiable form of emergency gear. In countries of unrest more extreme gear is needed. Many people who invest in a bug-out bag believe that it's just a matter of time before social unrest or some catastrophic event drives us from our homes. A bug out bag has gear for long term survival and protection.

Military and tactical personnel are trained for extreme emergency situations. They invest heavily in the necessary gear.

Often a bug out bag consists of a durable, portable container (tactical backpack with molle-ready attachment points, etc) filled with elite gear that will withstand extreme situations. Gear might include, hydration bladders and filters, MRE food, multitools, rechargeable light sources, hatchets or saws, portable shelters, weapons, communication devices, etc. Budgets for bug out equipment usually exceed other emergency kits because there is an emphasis on quality and specified gear.

Recommendations:

  1. Do your research - don't spend a lot of money until you're trained to use the gear you purchase - it can get expensive.
  2. Get the right gear - if you're expecting to use a bug out bag, you don't want to come up short when you need it.

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Survival Kit - 2 Person

Overall Best Ready-made Emergency Kit

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Outdoor Surival Kits

Outdoor survival kits are intended to help you get home or get to safety. The gear they contain is intended to keep you safe, keep you warm, and repair your body enough to get to help.

Situations Warranting an Outdoor Survival Kit

  • Campout
  • Day Hike
  • Fishing Trip
  • ATV/Quad Trip
  • Etc.

Go Bag Types

  • Survival Kit
  • Day Pack

Contents

A survival kit contains the emergency essentials (discusssed above) among other items like extra clothing, food-ready-to-eat, water, as well as tools, enhanced first aid, etc.

A Survival kit is considered a durable, portable, very handy emergency kit.

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Ferro Rod with Striker

Great secondary option for fire starting, especially when wet

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Ka-Bar Fixed Blade Knife

Sturdy, mid-priced, full-tang field knife for multi-purpose survival

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Jetboil Backpacking Stove

Lightweight, rapid boil camping stove

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Survival Kits

Survival kits are intended for outdoor use. We spend a TON of time in the wilderness and we invest in very specific gear to help us survive in challenging situations.

Experience: Bad Sprain

A few years ago we were on a hike to an alpine lake in Northern Idaho. One of the kids we were with sprained an ankle badly enough he couldn't walk on it. Fortunately, we had the right gear to wrap and splint his foot and lower leg so he could get off the mountain with a make-shift crutch. The survival gear we had in our hiking bags made all the difference.

Survival kits are usually portable and contain gear and supplies for a day or more. Our personal kits include water filtration, fishing and hunting options for food, and gear for fire and shelter among other things. We even have allergy meds, sunscreen, sting relief, etc. While we end up packing some extra weight, the number of times we've had to use the gear makes it well worth it. Never head into the wilderness without the right gear!

Recommendations:

Build your survival kit for your environment. For example, dryer climates require more water because filtration may not be an option. Colder climates may require more insulated clothing.

  1. Look at your region and consider the gear you need
  2. Consider the activities you'll be doing (i.e. bikers might need flat fix gear)
  3. Consider the essentials for survival
  4. Make it modular
  5. Check out ready-made kits to get started
  6. Get the best gear your budget will allow

Your survival kit should be tailored to your needs. Get started on it and never venture out without it!

Survival Kit

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Hiking Backpack - Medium

Quality backpack for bug out bags, 72-hour kits or other emergency organization

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Jetboil Backpacking Stove

Lightweight, rapid boil camping stove

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Day Pack

Whether your adventures are urban, suburban, rural, or back woods you can be prepared for common emergencies. Your day pack will be custom to your needs. We spend a ton of time outdoors so we'll refer to a day pack that can be used on common outings (hiking, biking, fishing, etc.) Your adventures may be urban and your day pack may be a briefcase or purse so the gear you carry just in case will be different. We have some ideas for that as well.

Experience: Bad Directions

Last year we were given bad directions on a new mountain bike route. We had a map but the trail wasn't listed. Our 'direction-giver' sent us down a steep trail into a ravine. As we dropped elevation, we wondered how we were going to get to the ridge we were hoping for. We kept thinking the trail would turn upward but we were mistaken. We found ourselves at the bottom of a long valley and it was getting dark. The trail we came down was so steep we couldn't ride back up it so we had to continue on the trail until it connected with another one.

Fortunately, we had water, headlamps, food, and insulated jackets in our day packs we ALWAYS take with us on our adventures. Hours later we wound around on a connecting trail back to the saddle we wanted to reach. The sky was cloud covered and it was dark and chilly. We were exhausted and a bit unnerved but we got out. We were so glad we were prepared with the necessary supplies.

Recommendations:

  1. Always have basic first aid supplies with you
  2. Carry a multi tool with a blade and pliers at minimum
  3. Have a bit of extra cash on hand
Day Packs

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42L Tactical Backpack

Quality military-style backpack for bug out bags, 72-hour kits or other emergency organization

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GPS - Garmin

High sensitivity TOPO GPS device for emergencies

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Home Emergency Kits and Supplies

A house kit or home kit is intended for an emergency where you much shelter in place. It assumes you don't have the ability to just run to the store. It has tools, first aid, food storage, water filtration and storage, and other supplies designed to keep you comfortable and healthy.

C.E.R.T Training - Las Vegas Warning

We were in a C.E.R.T training in Las Vegas a few years back when the teacher asked how vulnerable we thought Las Vegas was as a city. We all paused.

She responded, "for a city of 2 million, there is one water source, one fuel line, one airline fuel line, limited power generation, a couple of freeways with many miles between cities, and in the summer 112 degree weather. If any one of those resources was compromised on a hot summer day, how long do you think it would take before social unrest would begin? If the resource was compromised long term and people were dying of heat stroke, how long would it take before social unrest was intense? Would you be prepared to relocate with the right gear?"

We all looked around at each other very perplexed. Better have a plan.

Situations Warranting a House Kit

  • Pandemic
  • Winter Storm
  • Social Unrest
  • Terrorism

House Kit Types

  • Home Kit
  • Bulk Supplies and Equipment

Contents

A house kit might contain a family sized water filter, generator, fire wood, large first aid kit, medical supplies, food storage (up to 1 year), etc.

A Home Kit is considered required in all households.

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Wise Food Storage 1 Month

Emergency dehydrated food storage for 1 month

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Family Sized Water Filter

Affordable, long lasting multi-person water filter and purifier

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Portable 5-Gallon Water Container

Portable, durable 5 gallon water containers for potable water transport

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House Kit for Home and Family

A house kit is an extention to your go bags. It is portable yet works well in the home It may be intended to support you at home or loaded into a vehicle for relocation. We recommend having items like lanterns, camp kitchen items, tools (i.e. hatchet, utilities wrenches, etc.), enhanced first aid or trauma supplies, and other larger items.

An emergency kit for home and family should take into consideration all of the members of the household. It should be portable and include clothing, gear, medications, and other items necessary for survival and comfort.

Every spring we schedule 2 family nights to review our emergency preparedness plan and resources. The first night we check all of our stuff to see what's broken, missing, worn out. We make assignments to do our shopping. As any new gear arrives we replenish the kids. On the 2nd night we pick a topic or two and train each other on how to use the gear in the kits. At one training we got all of the items out of the trauma kit and had a family friend (doctor) show us how to use the stuff. At our last training it was surprising that none of us knew how to use the fire extinguisher.

Including everyone in the household in the emergency plan and training can bring a lot of peace of mind.

Recommendations

  • Look at your household and determine what each individual might need if you can't leave the home or if you are forced to evacuate. 
  • Organize gear in plastic bins to keep them dry and segregated. We have a gear bin, trauma kit, and outdoor kitchen bin (also used for camping) and we can rely on these kits for at-home use or evacuation.

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Rubbermaid Lockable Bin Container

Sturdy, lockable, plastic industrial totes/bins for survival gear

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Stackable 5-Gallon Water Containers

Stackable, portable, durable 5 gallon water containers for potable water storage and transport

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Bulk Supplies and Equipment

Bulk supplies and equipment usually a larger system of survival gear. It may include tents or a camper for shelter, propane for heating and cooking, changes of clothes, bedding, generator for power, etc. An emergency that requires long term survival has a large enough impact you might not be going home. We can't help but think of The Walking Dead and hope our gear never sees a day like that.

Imagine a hurricane or earthquake with large enough devastation that returning home isn't an option. In that case, you want to grab your gear, throw it in a vehicle and hit the road. After hurricane Katrina people were relocated to stadiums and other shelters and then forced to relocate permanently because of the resulting damage to communities. Every part of the country has climate and earth produced threats, civil threats, etc.

Recommendations

  • Store 1 year of food in your pantry or storage room: 3 mos normal use, 3 mos dehydrated like Wise Foods or Mountain House, 6 months of raw grain, rice, beans, sugar, etc.
  • Have a generator on hand.
  • Have firewood on hand if it makes sense.

The key to building a kit is to make sure the gear is all together and ready to load up at a moment's notice.

During good times it seems silly to prepare for extreme times. However, during those extreme times the silliness quickly disappears.

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Multi-Fuel Generator

Dual fuel porable generator with electric start for emergency power

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Specialty Emergency Kits

Your home and vehicle might have the right survival gear but there are locations like work, school, others that may require specific gear or a kit that is very handy.

Situations Warranting a Specialty Kit

  • Injured student
  • Sick student
  • Injured co-worker
  • Sick co-worker
  • Machinery with shut-off valves
  • Etc.

Go Bag Types

  • Work Place/Office Emergency Kit
  • School Emergency Kit
  • Vehicle/Travel Emergency Kit
  • Boat Emergency Kit
  • Pet Emergency Kit

Contents

A specialty emergency kit contains the emergency essentials (discusssed above) among other items like extra first aid, special tools, etc.

A specialty kit is considered unique to a specific situation.

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Respirator

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Husqvarna Rancher Chainsaw

Best selling chainsaw for emergencies

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Emergency Kits for Work/Office

Emergencies can occur at nearly any workplace. Besides external hazards and catastrophes, workplace accidents happen more frequently than we'd like. Being prepared with the right first aid, event management tools, and a plan to contain a hazardous situation is key to maneuvering through a traumatic event. Find quality emergency kits for work.

[blockquote] At a previous job a framer put his foot up on a floor and rested his weight on the other leg. His knee was bent and he set his nail gun just above his knee cap without letting go of the trigger. When he set it down, the safety was depressed and 3 nails shot out into his knee.

Quick action from coworkers minimized the damage and they were able to get him to the hospital quickly.

The right gear and the right training made all the difference.

Many workplaces have required emergency plans and procedures - some are government mandated. For those that don't, now's a great time to take action. Start with the essentials and set a monthly budget to add what's needed. Don't forget to train everyone how to use the gear, you might be the one who benefits!

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Safety Goggles

Anit-fog protective safety goggles

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Emergency Kits for School

Most schools have government mandated emergency plans, first aid kits, and emergency kits. However, they also get used A LOT. It's key key to make sure the gear and equipment is updated and replenished regularly. Staff should also be trained regularly so students, staff and administrators are protected.

While most incidents are minor and require simple first aid, individuals with special medical needs or external events can require specialized training.

Recommendations:

  1. Follow local, regional, and national requirements
  2. Update the gear frequently
  3. Get everyone the necessary training

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Vehicle/Travel Kit

Travel is often full of uncertainty. Mechanical failures, drowsiness, construction, etc can alter plans considerably. Having vehicle emergency gear in your vehicle can make a huge difference.

Vehicle emergency kits should contain tools for basic vehicle repair, devices for communicating with other vehicles (cones, flares, lights), jumper cables, tow ropes. They should also include first aid supplies. It's surprising how often first aid is administered while traveling. Medications should also be included. We go through a lot of nausea meds when we travel with people who get car sick. We also use Tylenol quite often.

Experience: War Saved the Day

We broke down in the mountains one time. My dad walked up the road to a farmhouse we passed to call for help. When he returned he mentioned it would be hours before Mom arrived. He pulled out the emergency kit in the truck glove box and grabbed a deck of playing cards. We played War the entire time. We turned an emergency situation into one of my favorite memories because we had a simple creature comfort.

Most vehicles have trunks, consoles, glove boxes, or other storage compartments. Start with portable container like backpacks, or small duffles to fill with the right gear.

Recommendations:

  1. Invest in quality gear - when you're away from home and have limited supplies you want to be able to count on them.
  2. Check the batteries regularly on flashlights and other devices - we tend to forget about auto emergency kits until we need them.
  3. Start with a ready-made car kit - they usually have the correct essentials

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Car Emergency Kit - AAA

Quality road emergency kit approved by the AAA organization

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Car Emergency Kit - Roadside Assistance

Basic roadside emergency kit with first aid

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Heavy Duty Car Emergency Kit - With Compressor

Heavy duty, high quality road emergency kit 90-piece with 48-piece first aid kit

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Boat Kit

Much like a purpose-built kit for your car you should carry a kit with the right gear for boats and aquatic craft. It only takes getting stranded on the water once to learn that lesson.

Experience: Tubing Accident

A family friend has one of those cool surf boats. He's a doctor and seems to always be prepared. On one aquatic outing his son had a bunch of friends out tubing. They flipped the tube and it knocked the boy out. The doctor quickly made his way over to the still-floating boy who was face down in the water. They pulled him out and got him breathing again. The gear and training they had on board turned a scary situation into a campfire story.

We've seen fish hooks through fingers, rope burns, and blisters on boating events. If you have a boat, you have to be prepared.

Recommendations:

  1. Check your first aid gear regularly because it's easy to forget gear you've consumed
  2. Make sure there are floatation devices for everyone
  3. Make sure you can warm up someone who is cold and wet

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First Aid Kit - Tactical

Tactical, Portable IFAK First Aid Kit

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Car Emergency Kit - AAA

Quality road emergency kit approved by the AAA organization

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Pet Kit

Some people think of their pets as children. Our dog pretty much runs the household. When an emergency arises it's key to have a plan and a pet emergency kit so you can your pet with you or leave it with someone at the drop of a hat.

Recommendations:

  1. Include records of medical shots, etc
  2. Include food for a period of time - change the food out periodically
  3. Don't raid the kit for day-to-day activities

Recommended Products

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Nalgene Water Bottle

Personal survival water bottle

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Ready-Made Emergency Kits

Most people start with ready-made emergency kits. They buy something with the essentials assembled by professionals. However, premade kits can be deficient in individualized gear, first aid, and medications.

  1. Pros
    1. Ready to go now
    2. Someone did the thinking for you
    3. Usually they are pretty affordable
  2. Cons
    1. Often they have cheaper gear to hit a consumer price point
    2. One-size-fits-all may not fit your circumstances

We recommend starting out with a ready-made kit that fits your needs. Over time, add and subtract to it. Over the years, most of the original gear from our ready-made kits has been replaced with high-quality items.

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20 10 27 02 34 06 original 600x600 survival system   2 person

Survival Kit - 2 Person

Overall Best Ready-made Emergency Kit

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20 10 27 02 32 27 original 600x600 emergency kit   72 hours   family

Emergency Kit - 72 Hours - Family

Best 4-Person 72-Hour Kit

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Do It Yourself (DIY) Emergency Kits

If you have the budget and a little time, the best emergency kits are often built by you. We built a definitive group of DIY emergency kit checklists for you to choose from. You can down load the checklist and then purchase all of the right products. We provide links to all of the products you'll need with optimal and budget-friendly options.

There are a number of methods for building your own kit:

  1. One Bag for Any Emergency - Bug Out Bags
  2. Many kits for Many Locations
  3. Survival System

While it takes a little effort to purchase, assemble, and package your gear, it can be very rewarding. Not only do you know exactly what you have access to but you also have done the research to know how to use it. We spend time with our kids to build their personal kits. They get a budget and we help them prioritize their purchases. It's satisfying to see them in an emergency situation using the gear from their kits.

Experience: Scouts without Water

As a Boy Scout my son's troop ran out of water during an overnight backpacking trip. He was the only boy with a water filter. He filled all of the boys' water bottles numerous times during that outing. I smiled every time I saw him filling up a bottle as I remembered the numerous family nights going over his emergency gear.

While we swear by building your own kit, sometimes ready-made is the way to go.

  1. Pros to DIY
    1. Custom made for your Situation
    2. Hand selected gear is often higher quality
    3. Researching products means you're more knowledgeable to use it
  2. Cons
    1. Buying individual components can be expensive if you don't budget
    2. Finding a container to hold the gear can be challenging
    3. Researching products can take time
20 10 22 09 52 11 original 600x600 flashlight

Tactical LED Flashlight

Durable, handheld metal flashlight for survival

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20 11 06 09 38 40 original 600x600 molle pouch

Molle Pouch

High quality molle pouch for equipment, first aid, and more.

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20 10 20 14 25 06 original 600x600 leatherman wave

Leatherman Wave Multi-Tool

The most popular, reliable survival multi-tool on the market

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Personal Water Filter - Sawyer

Affordable, long lasting water filter and purifier

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Survival Gear System (Recommended)

There are many kit types for a number of different intents. We believe that emergency preparation should center around a survival gear system, not just one kit. Our emergency gear should be handy, it should be effective, and it shouldn't be bound by time (i.e. 72 hours).

Principles of a Great Survival Gear System

  1. Quality Gear and Supplies Only - Don't buy gimmicky products. Save up if you need to and buy quality gear. You may need to depend on it some day.
  2. Prioritize Purchases - Prioritize your purchases - Buy the items highest on the list first.
  3. Modular Organization - Make sure you organize your gear in pouches and bags so you can keep track of it and move it from one location to another without it getting lost.
  4. Organize Gear in Stages - Start with personal kits and supplies and then look to support the whole family or household.
  5. Train Everyone - Make sure everyone in your household, work, school is trained to use your gear, knows the emergency plans, and knows first aid.

Survival Gear System Priority Stages

Stage 0: Every Day Carry (EDC) (personal) - Includes gear you have with you day to day.

Stage 1: Emergency Essentials (personal) - Has the bare essential gear for a survival situation and can be moved from one pack to another or to a vehicle or coat pocket.

Stage 2: Go Bag (personal) - Includes the Essentials from Stage 1 and adds critical gear for a long-term stay away from home in an evacuation.

Stage 3: House Kit (household/family) - Extended gear for the family or household in case of evacuation.

Stage 4: Bulk Supplies and Equipment (household/family) - Food storage, water storage, and equipment for shelter-in-place emergencies.

A survival system consists of a lot of gear segmented by priority into stages. For example, all of our individual day packs have basic first aid. However, whenever we go car camping, we throw in our trauma kit as well. It contains a lot of additional first aid items to assist in a large number of emergency situations.

The goal is to be able to have enough gear with you at any given time to handle an emergency. Since not all situations allow us to pack around a trauma kit, we select the appropriate stage of gear for the outing.

Recommendations:

  1. Plan ahead
  2. Build your kit on a budget
  3. Don't raid the kit for day-to-day activities at home
  4. Consider creature comforts
  5. If you use a bin, consider putting the gear in separate duffle or backpack containers so you can divide them up if a vehicle breaks down and you need to relocate

How to Choose the Right Kit for Your Situation

So how do you choose what kit(s) you need and whether to buy or build? Use the following guide questions:

What Type of Emergency Kit Do I Need?

We can give you some direction on what type of emergency kit you need. See the table below. You'll also need to consider the number of people you are responsible for so you can scale up your kits and supplies.

Survival System Emergency Kit Survival Kit 72 Hour Kit Bug Out Bag Bulk Supplies and Equipment Car/Boat Kit
Own a home x x x
Spend time outdoors x x x
Live in a region where evacuation is likely x x x x x x
Believe long term evacuation possible x x x x
Own a vehicle or water craft x x
Worry about long term social unrest x x
Worry about zombie apocalypse x x x
Have a tight budget x x    
Anticipate Shelter-in-Place x x

Do I Buy an Emergency Kit or Build a Custom Kit?

This table suggests whether you should buy or build an emergency kit. Also, keep in mind the number of people in your stewardship so you can have the correct amount of supplies.

Buy Ready-Made Build Custom
Do I have limited budget? x
Do I have limited emergency knowledge or experience? x
Do I have limited time to research products? x
I don't have specific individual needs or medial issues. x
Is this my first emergency kit? x
Do I want the best or specialized gear? x
Do I have an ongoing budget for emergency supplies? x
I have specific individual needs for someone I'm responsible for. x
I want a modular approach to survival x
I kind of nerd out about gear and survival. x

1This post may contain affiliate links. If you make a purchase, I may earn a small commission at no additional cost to you.
2 As an Amazon Associate we earn from qualifying purchases.
3 Most reviews are based on personal experience from one of our content editors. Some are based on research and the opinions of other reviewers.

 

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